Two-time Buenos Aires mayor Mauricio Macri was elected Argentina’s next president after a runoff vote, marking the end of a political dynasty.
“Thank you for believing in me. … I am here because you have decided,” Macri said from his campaign headquarters on Sunday, Nov. 22. “Today is a historic day, a new era.” According to elections officials, more than 98 percent of votes were counted. Macri, a center-right candidate, won 51.4 percent with his Let’s Change coalition.
Shortly before Macri spoke, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s handpicked successor, Daniel Scioli, conceded defeat, but vowed to keep pushing for the ideals of Fernandez and her husband. His somber speech from his campaign headquarters acknowledged that the margin between him and his opponent was too large to overcome.
“I have given the best in me, with passion, as I usually do, convinced that our proposal to the Argentine people was the best option. The people, in this runoff, have chosen differently,” Scioli said. “Now I, from wherever it may be, will still defend an ideal, a country project that started 12 years ago.”
Fernandez is scheduled to leave office on Dec. 10, ending 12 consecutive years of rule by the Kirchner family. Fernandez held office for eight years, while her late husband Nestor Kirchner served as Argentina’s leader for four years before her.
Since taking over in late 2007, Fernandez has seized pension fund assets while increasing welfare programs and battling U.S. hedge funds over defaulted debt. Prior to ballot casting Scioli told journalists, in an attempt to persuade undecided voters, “We are going to vote with an unemployment rate of under 6 percent, with the lowest debt level in the world.”
Experts say Macri’s administration is expected to introduce greater pragmatism to the country’s economic policies. “Next year’s economic prospects remain largely uncertain,” Mauro Roca, an economist at Goldman Sachs, said in a report. The sooner the implementation of the necessary policy reforms, the faster would be the materialization of the expected medium-term potential.”
The election of Macri could signal a conservative shift away from Fernandez’s populist political legacy for Argentina. Macri will serve with a minority in both houses of Congress. Despite this, Macri’s campaign promised big changes for Argentina’s debt problems and overall economy. He also vowed to end currency controls and cut export taxes. In his victory speech, Macri promised he would work to eliminate poverty in Argentina.
“I also want to say to our Latin American brothers and our brothers around the world, that we want to have good relationships with all countries,” he said. “We want to work with everyone. We know that the Argentine people have much to bring to the world, and we hope to find an agenda of cooperation.”
Before ballots were cast, Macri told voters, “We hope that tomorrow a new stage will start for Argentina. We all know this is a historic day that will change our lives.”